Seems to me that this previous incident is not getting as much press as it should.
It was an organized and quite recent (June 2012) attempt by Uyghurs—the Muslim separatist group in western China—to hijack a Chinese plane. And it was a very serious attempt (and note the crutch, the m.o. for carrying a weapon in the film “The Day of the Jackal”):
A Tianjin Airlines Embraer ERJ-190 jet was leaving on its daily route from Hotan Airport to Ürümqi Diwopu International Airport at 12:25 pm (0425 Greenwich Mean Time) with 92 passengers and nine crew. The suspected hijackers, six Uyghur men aged 20–36 from the city of Kashgar, boarded the aircraft without notice. Surveillance video showed the suspects feigning disability to bypass airport security; one suspect hid his aluminum pipe weapon inside his crutch. The hijackers donned staff uniforms and split into two parties of three in the front and back of the plane. One of the suspects said they aimed to fly the aircraft out of the country to wage holy war; China has previously raised concerns that Uyghur militants are linking up to their Islamist counterparts in Pakistan.
…The three hijackers in front were attempting to break down the door to the cockpit, according to the China Daily, injuring a flight attendant who resisted them. Witnesses note that the attackers were armed with the sharp ends of a disassembled aluminum crutch. Simultaneously, the three men in the back brandished metal bars and explosives, beating seated passengers while announcing “whoever stands up will die”.
Upon hearing this declaration of intent, Fu Huacheng, a passenger and the minister of education for Lop County, recalled running out of his seat and shouting in Uyghur to his fellow passengers: “Come on! Let’s stand up and fight them.” Up to six mostly Uyghur plainclothes police responded to Fu’s call; microbloggers confirmed witnessing plainclothes policemen removing homemade explosives from the suspects. A group of passengers, led by a local doctor, escorted the elderly and children away from the violence. Some passengers successfully activated the mid-air anti-hijacking contingency plan, which involves pushing a trolley in front of the cockpit door. A passenger interviewed by the Associated Press confirmed that passengers used their belts to restrain the attackers; witnesses to the hijacking posted bloody pictures of the arrests on Sina Weibo.
Bloody indeed: “Two hijackers died from injuries from the fight on board.”
It strikes me that terrorists often learn from their previous errors, and tweak their approach until it works (for example, the second attack on the WTC compared to the first). I realize that authorities are convinced that one of the regular pilots was involved in flying Flight 370 to whatever fate awaited it. But is not also possible that the pilot[s] might have been under the control of armed men who told him that, if he cooperated and did what they wanted, he’d be able to land the plane safely in an old-fashioned hijacking situation?